Letter to the Editor

This was sent to Preston Cole, Wisconsin Secretary of Natural Resources
CC to the Geneva Shore Report

5/21/2019 Dear Secretary Cole:

Lake Geneva is under a threat of invasion by an alien aquatic invasive species with a reputation in both Michigan and Minnesota as a “lake killer.” To make a bad situation even worse, our Lake Geneva Community was dealt a serious injustice by the DNR’s Richard Reed who is quoted from an interview in the 5/16/2019 Lake Geneva Regional News as saying the invasive species Starry Stonewort “stays close to the lake floor, well below boat propellers.” Mr. Reed also stated that SSW can only get spread by an “anchor” picking up the branches and seeds of SSW in one spot and then dropping them in another spot. Then adding that the possibility of spreading SSW from the Trinke Lagoon marina out into Geneva Lake is an “unlikely occurrence.”

Concerned citizens of Lake Geneva feel this is the most uneducated and reckless statement a representative of the Department could possibly make about such a potentially treacherous invasion. Nowhere in the thousands of articles and scientific reports on Starry Stonewort from New York, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, etc. is there a claim that SSW is consigned to remaining on the bottom of the lake and only gets spread by anchors. Perhaps it’s true in Europe and Japan where SSW is endangered and lethargic, and maybe it hasn’t yet progressed here in Wisconsin to the “Disaster Warning” stage in the eyes of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, but that’s no excuse for a professional from the DNR’s Law Enforcement Team being so flippant as to assure boaters not to be concerned that their boats could be responsible for fragmenting and spreading SSW.

The DNR’s own website calls SSW an ecological threat that outcompetes other vegetation, and whose fragments can foul watercraft motors (https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/invasives/fact/starrystonewort.html). Our astute and judicious neighbors in Minnesota have the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC) specifically targeting the study, research, education, and management of invasive species including SSW. They have experienced firsthand the lake killing effects of SSW, as has the state of Michigan, so there is no need for Wisconsin’s DNR to directly experience its destructive lake effects to understand its disastrous potential and to treat it accordingly. The MAISRC asserts:-

Starry stonewort appears to be spreading vegetatively in the U.S. (by bulbils and fragments). Accidental movement by people is the most likely means of dispersal. Many of the known infestations occur in high-use waterbodies and near boat accesses.”

The Trinke Lagoon referred to in the Regional News article, where the DNR has confirmed the presence of SSW, is a very crowded marina with boats continually passing near the location of SSW. To believe this condition doesn’t pose a catastrophic risk to Geneva Lake is either ill-advised or seriously lacking in information and inquiry.

Lake Geneva was just voted “The Country’s Best Small Town for Outdoor Adventure” and our Geneva Lake is at the center of that adventure. So please don’t let the Wisconsin DNR sacrifice our lake at the altar of needing to experience it first-hand, believing that understanding can only come from personal experience. Attached is an accumulation of websites, articles, research findings, facts, and quotes emphasizing the disastrous effects of SSW and its growth model that affects all forms of lake recreation and the tourism economy. Hopefully, reviewing them will raise the red flag of alarm and caution for the DNR to better address the threat we’re facing here in Lake Geneva. The AIS management plan initially proposed by the DNR was excellent, but required cooperation and accepting a little inconvenience by the 30-member Trinket Estates Association. When that cooperation was refused, the DNR acquiesced without even a mention of imposing Invasive Species Rule NR-40.

The DNR Management Plan now is just 2 chemical treatments along with “a hope and a prayer” that this most aggressive of all aquatic invasive species will stay contained. The DNR is advocating Geneva Lake play Russian Roulette with a fully loaded gun, while the Lake Geneva Community prays for a miracle. We expected more from the DNR.- Dick Malmin N1991 S. Lakeshore Drive Lake Geneva, Wi. 53147

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